Friday, Aug. 27, 2010
By Patrick Mooney
CINCINNATI Joey Votto is on the cover of Sports Illustrated and chasing the Triple Crown. Dusty Baker has been offered a contract extension, but might want to wait for a more lucrative offer, if not a better job in a bigger market.
Lou Piniella will celebrate his 67th birthday on Saturday, out of uniform and away from a big-league stadium. Cincinnati reporters wont be able to ask him how great that 1990 Reds team was 20 years ago.
This city can worry about locking up Votto arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and Baker at a later date. Right now, a franchise that has made the playoffs just once since Piniella led it to a World Series title is enjoying the thrill of a pennant race.
It sounded like a Springsteen concert on Friday night at Great American Ball Park, with a crowd of 36,219 chanting Bruuuuuuuuuuce!
The fans were saluting Jay Bruce, who launched three home runs and powered the Reds to a 7-1 victory over the Cubs, beginning a three-game series that shows just how far the gap has widened between these two teams.
The Cubs (54-75) now trail the first-place Reds (74-54) by 20.5 games in the National League Central, a division they dominated only two years ago.
On Thursday, general manager Jim Hendry interviewed Eric Wedge, who managed the Cleveland Indians to within one victory of the 2007 World Series before being fired nearly two years later.
The next night marked the first loss of the Mike Quade era. The Cubs manager for the next 33 games at least said he has no problem with Hendry meeting other candidates.
Quade felt Hendry was upfront with him on Saturday night, when he was informed that he would be promoted from third-base coach. This is how an extensive search process is going to work.
We covered everything and Im actually surprised that I remember most of it, because I was buckled, Quade said. Look, hes going to interview people. This is going to give him time to do that and not have some crush at the end of the season. (He) knows Im good with it.
And why wouldnt you (do more interviews)? Theres a lot of good baseball people out there. (Its) not a distraction at all. I get it.
Amid all these changes, Quade has found it to be most relaxing once the game begins 7:10 p.m. local time and the Cubs swept the Washington Nationals this week with the strength of their starting pitching.
Tom Gorzelanny who had thrown 240 pitches combined in his previous two starts watched as Bruce drilled a hanging slider and a fastball that stayed right in the middle of the plate.
Bruce and Chris Valaika hit back-to-back homers in the fifth inning that together traveled an estimated 801 feet, suddenly turning a 2-1 game into a 6-1 blowout. Gorzelanny surrendered six runs and snapped his streak of throwing at least six innings in eight consecutive starts.
Nothing was working, Gorzelanny said. Ive been focused on trying to keep the ball down and just get guys to ground out. Ive been fortunate enough to not give up too many long balls (this season.) You run out of luck real easy pitching in a park like this, facing a lineup like this.
Its not as if Quade was going to finish the year undefeated. And the front office clearly respects his teaching background after managing 17 seasons in the minor leagues. But he doesnt want to think about the alternative, like if the organization will find a spot for him even if someone else is managing the 2011 Cubs.
I love Chicago Id love to be here, Quade said. (Ill) do this audition (and) then (well) see where we go from there. For me to think, Well, if I dont get it, Ill do this Thats not how Im geared.
Right now Im going to do the best job I can here and see what happens. And if the scenario doesnt involve me here running this club, then you take a look at other scenarios. Just let me get through these five weeks.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.